Horror Writing

Horror Writing: Mediums

What works for your story?

One of my favourite things about the horror genre is how well it works across nearly all mediums.

I’m going to have a very brief look at some of my favourites today, I’m not covering all mediums by any stretch of the imagination and my look at those I do cover is brief. I’m thinking I may do more exploitative deep dives in later blogs.

Medium: Books

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Why it suits the Horror genre: Horror works well in book format as books offer a great way to attach yourself to characters and it’s so much easier to make your audience feel fear if you make them care about your characters before you put them in peril. Also, it should be noted that nothing is more terrifying than the human imagination and books engage our imaginations. To quote one of my favorite memes Reading = staring at a bit of dead tree covered in squiggles and vividly hallucinating.

My favorites: Don’t make me choose you beast!

Medium: Videogames

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Why it suits the Horror genre: Horror works well in game format, well written and thought out games can be as immersive as books, more so in many cases as you ‘the player’ controls (to an extent) the character you’re playing as. It’s up to you to go into the creepy basement, its up to you to investigate the noises in the attic. Games are a fantastic medium for really immersing your audience, making this their story. They also play up to one of the best strengths of horror, subversion. Video games usually make the player feel powerful, but a good horror game does the exact opposite. It subverts the power fantasy. Then you’ve got the visual novel games, and the ‘walking simulator’ type games tell amazing, immersive stories.

My favorites: Action-ish game – Alien Isolation. Visual novel – Doki Doki Literature Club. Walking simulator style game – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

Medium: Film

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Why it suits the Horror genre: Horror works well in films, films are a visual medium and so horror can really go all out with the visual effects (when done properly) taking advantage of this means that you can show your audience things they might not have thought of on their own. Body horror works well in this medium, as an example. Think of the film The Fly, now imagine if that had been a book, it may not have worked as well, as nothing beats seeing the absolute horror poor Seth ends up as. Or you can live up to the horror strength and subvert, take away the visual element. The first paranormal activity film does this, there’s sometime terrible in the house that can see and effect the people but no one, not even the audience can see it. It heightens the powerless feeling in a way that might be hard to do in other mediums.

My favorites: The first Paranormal Activity film

Medium: Series

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Why it suits the Horror genre: Horror works as a series, recently series’ have been amazing, the quality being produced right now astounds me at times. This has really benefited the horror genre, the recent(ish) Netflix show Haunting of Hill house has been praised for its visual style, its writing, it’s uses of metaphor and its unforgiving look at the realities of depression and loss. I think that it does all these things wonderfully and part of the reason it can is because it is a series. You’ve got so much more time when you produce a series, you can develop characters, build tension slowly, explore themes in much more nuanced ways.

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